Thousands of e-bikes are back on Sydney’s streets as bike-sharing companies embrace new technology

The rise of shared bikes on Sydney’s streets has brought back memories of shared bike pollution clogging streets, parks and waterways. But the bike-sharing companies say technologies like geofencing and rider training will combat poor parking.

Beam’s spokeswoman said her app uses technology to direct riders to park in appropriate spaces, “creating virtual parking locations to incentivize parking in recommended locations.”

Previous attempts to introduce e-bikes have not always ended well.

Previous attempts to introduce e-bikes have not always ended well.Credit: Lucy Billingsley

Drivers are asked to send a photo at the end of the ride “so we know it’s parked safely,” she said. Beam also employs eight marshals to move badly parked bikes to a better spot.

Lime drivers are also required to take a picture of their parking space and can face a warning, fine or ban if they park poorly.

“We recognize the importance of not impeding footpaths and other common spaces, especially for those with access needs,” Burt-Morris said.

Bicycle NSW, the leading advocacy group for cyclists, supports joint e-bike programs and has a commercial partnership with HelloRide.

The latest vendors anticipate that new technologies will help prevent bike dumping as it has done before.

The latest vendors anticipate that new technologies will help prevent bike dumping as it has done before.

Peter McLean, managing director of Bicycle NSW, said past mishaps where operators went bust and didn’t take care of discarded bikes had tarnished bike-sharing’s reputation.

“Dockless systems have worked in some other countries, but it doesn’t work here due to the lower number of bikes and our bike infrastructure, helmet usage and pricing models,” he said.

McLean also suggested limiting the number of bike-sharing companies to two or three operators who are doing well, “instead of five or six who are less committed.”

Burt-Morris said bike-sharing is hampered by Sydney’s lack of cycling infrastructure, which still “lags hugely behind many major cities”.

The hope is that dedicated virtual parking spaces will keep footpaths clear.

The hope is that dedicated virtual parking spaces will keep footpaths clear.

“Oxford Street is the road we travel the most with our Lime e-bikes, but there’s still some argument over whether or not there should be a bike lane,” he said.

A HelloRide spokesman also said the lack of cycle lanes on key routes like Oxford Street poses a challenge.

“We believe policymakers can further encourage bike sharing by investing in and improving cycling infrastructure, enacting regulations that encourage responsible bike parking, and promoting the immense health and environmental benefits of cycling,” he said.

Sydney City Council supports shared bike schemes despite a history of problems with businesses failing and bikes left in the streets.

A spokeswoman for Waverley Council said the council was generally happy with the behavior of bike-sharing operators, while riders were “quite good” at not obstructing footpaths.

“We currently have no bike confiscations and we’ve had at most 10 complaints this year about bikes blocking sidewalks,” she said. “In these cases, the operators responded quickly to resettlement requests.”

The City of Sydney received 11 complaints last year about shared bikes parked on sidewalks and obstructing pedestrians.

It’s one of six inner-city councils with guidelines for dockless bike-sharing operators, including responsible parking, but a council spokesman said the state government should develop a framework for bike-sharing schemes as they operate across the city.

Edward Morris, chief executive of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, said poorly parked e-bikes also pose a safety risk and inconvenience to people with physical disabilities.


“This is especially true for wheelchair users and people with visual impairments, who may find it difficult to see or negotiate obstacles,” he said.

Morris said making bike-sharing companies responsible for keeping sidewalks clear doesn’t work: “People with disabilities are harassed and not encouraged to leave the house.”

The NSW Government is studying how electric devices such as e-bikes can be integrated into the transport system and is building more cycle lanes.

A spokesman for Transport for NSW said they aim to double cycling in NSW over the next 20 years: “We want walking and cycling – active modes of transport – to be the preferred way of making short journeys and a viable, safe and efficient one Possibility.” Option for longer trips.”

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Justin Scaccy

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